No, I’m Not Voting for Trump, but I Get the Message

No, I’m not voting for Donald Trump, but I hear the anger, loud and clear.

That’s what I have to say about the presidential election this year, and I urge everyone to have the same attitude.

The reasons I cannot vote for Donald Trump hardly require rehashing.  I find troubling his views on Muslims, immigrants, foreigners and women, just to name a few, but above all, I find his bombastic tone and his lack of civility to be unacceptable.   I simply do not believe that this man has the temperament to be entrusted with the largest military and economy in the world.

But if you are dismissing the entire Donald Trump phenomenon as merely a movement by racist, xenophobic, sexist white Americans, you are part of what has created the problem.

If you take issues with this, consider: how would you describe a person who goes to church every week, is not troubled by prayer in public schools, owns a gun, believes abortion should not be readily available and gives credence to intelligent design?

Since you’re reading this post, the odds are extraordinarily high that you can’t name a single person who shares any of these qualities, even though the working class, non-college educated whites that form the core of Trump supporters share them in abundance.  In fact, you probably use words that are unflattering, bordering on condescending, to describe people who do.

It may shock you that I share all of these traits in one degree or another.  Yet I still voted for John Kasich, which means that–and this point is worth an extra emphasis–as crazy as I may seem to you, I am still far closer to you than to the large contingent of Americans who propelled Donald Trump to the Republican presidential nomination.

That’s the degree to which much of the top echelons of the American economy, politics and academia have become disconnected from a large portion of America.

Regardless of what your political inclination is, this is a very bad thing.

The Democratic Party is taking comfort in the belief that the Donald Trump phenomenon is the problem of the Republican Party.  The reality, though, is that it has simply decided to push the problem away.  Having gone all in with the coalition of the young, the minority and the super-educated in recent years, it left out of the equation the blue-collar, union-member whites who formed a large bastion of the party’s vote as recently as the 90s.

The party has dismissed these voters as unworthy and irrelevant, seemingly on the strategic calculation that the demographic trends are in its favor.  The wisdom of this logic is dubious at best.*

But if the Democratic Party ignores the working class whites at its own peril, the Republican Party has no choice but to deal.

For better or for worse, it is the Republican Party that has become the target of the wrath of blue-collar whites who want to be heard.  After nearly two decades, they’ve finally found a way to express themselves by instigating a hostile takeover of a major political party.

And the leadership of the party has responded with anywhere from hostile rejection to reluctant acceptance.

This seems awfully tone-deaf. After all, putting aside the antics of Donald Trump, the underlying grievances of his supporters are quite real.

Trump supporters are people who once held steady jobs with enough pay to support a decent living, only to have their jobs permanently lost to overseas competition.  What they built up over the course of their entire lives has been wiped out through no fault of their own, first through a series of corporate scandals, then through reckless financial shenanigans.  Their neighborhoods are collapsing, and the futures of their children seem bleaker than the lives they have lived.

The response to this predicament from one major political party has been to ignore, mock and ridicule their way of life, while the response from the other party has been to advocate more tax cuts and reduction in government spending under a leadership of a billionaire private equity fund manager who pays less than 15% in income tax.

It’s little wonder that Trump supporters are angry.

To be sure, I’m not advocating that the Republican Party become the party that advocates the doubling of the federal minimum wage or opposes free trade. My issues with Trump isn’t limited to his rhetoric; I have fundamental differences with his underlying policies, too.

The point, rather, is that the Republican Party needs to show it understands that this movement is far deeper than the rhetoric that’s coming out of Trump’s mouth.  The party needs to do more than merely provide token support Donald Trump as its nominee. It needs to convey the message that it gets the frustrations these people have been going through and find a way to alleviate their anger.

With the Democratic Party having decided to dismiss these voters, in apparent delight of its base, the task is left to the Republicans to appease.

The future of the country may depend on its success, because somehow, I doubt that the next time the Trump supporters want to be heard, they would take an approach as civilized as hijacking a presidential nomination contest.

* The Democratic Party certainly can’t take comfort in the electoral numbers.

In 2012–a year in which President Obama won nationally by four points–most people took it as a given that West Virginia, Missouri, Montana and South Dakota, which  President Obama lost by 27, nine, 14 and 18 points, respectively, were write-offs for the president, yet as recently as in 1988, Michael Dukakis performed better than his national eight point loss in each of these states, winning West Virginia by five and losing Missouri, Montana and South Dakota by only four, six and six points, respectively.  And these states aren’t even in the South.  In three decades, the Democratic Party has lost the ability to connect with states that are predominantly white, a serious problem when considering how many such states exist on the electoral map.

This, incidentally, is the reason I expect that election night will bring about some very surprising results.  I don’t doubt Donald Trump will be swamped on election day, but he will likely be competitive in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, all with large working class white population.

The Democratic Party also shouldn’t take too much comfort in the demographics.  For all the talk about the increase in the Hispanic vote, few people realize that even if you assume every single Mexican immigrated to the United States, America would still have a majority-white electorate.


4 Responses to “No, I’m Not Voting for Trump, but I Get the Message”

  1. 1 Ciriaco November 9, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Nice post, Joe.

    • 2 joesas November 10, 2016 at 1:22 am

      Thanks! Hope you also check out my post-election mortum in which I say similar things but encourage some urgency.

      I also provide some reasons for comfort.

  1. 1 Donald Trump’s Election Requires All of Us to Listen, and Have Faith in the U.S. System of Government | The World According to Joe Trackback on November 10, 2016 at 1:16 am
  2. 2 Why Donald Trump Won: Decade-Long Struggle of the Democratic Party with White Voters, and Other Unexplainable Factors | The World According to Joe Trackback on November 11, 2016 at 7:14 pm

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